The light at the end of the tunnel for Carnival (CCL), Royal Caribbean (RCL), and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) became a little brighter after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that U.S. cruises could resume by mid-summer with restrictions.
It’s unclear how stringent those restrictions might be, but the new outlook from the CDC represents a major step forward from the agency’s cautious stance on the battered cruise line industry.
The cruise line industry has remained almost entirely shut down in the U.S. due to a set of very intensive guidelines and conditions that must be met before resuming sailing.
Making matters worse, the restarts of some cruises in Europe have been delayed as countries struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19.
With CCL suggesting yesterday that it may move some of its U.S.-based ships to ports in less-restrictive geographies, it seems the company has reached its breaking point.
Whether CCL follows through on that plan remains to be seen, but the new proclamation from the CDC may help temper CCL’s angst.
Just prior to the CDC’s statement, NCLH also made some waves by outlining its plan to resume U.S. cruise operations in July, including through requiring vaccinations for guests and crew.
Required vaccinations go above and beyond what the CDC is calling for, although the health agency does recommend vaccinations for anyone onboard a cruise ship. For its part, CCL does not currently plan on requiring vaccinations for its guests.
As evidence builds that the U.S. cruise industry is about to reopen for business, the main question is whether people will feel comfortable and safe with the idea of cruising in a post-pandemic world. Based on early indicators, it appears that demand has been surprisingly resilient.